In Texas: Big ideas, bigger solutions

By Kim Cherry

You know what they say, everything is bigger in Texas! And that’s generally the case whether you’re talking about chicken fried steaks or road construction. One thing that probably isn’t as big in Texas as in other areas, but is just as serious, is the shortage of court reporters. We have heard about this issue for the past five years, and small actions have been taken to try to alleviate the impeding predictions. The 2013-2014 Industry Outlook Report by Ducker Worldwide (commis­sioned by NCRA) forecast has essentially come to fruition in all aspects.

In Texas, it was estimated that in 2018 we would be approximately 500 court reporters short of the demand. While some areas across our big state have felt the impact more than others, it has definitely become the main focus of those concerned in seeking answers.

In 2017, the Texas Court Reporters Associ­ation (TCRA) laid the groundwork for gaining momentum in this area. Instead of just sitting idly by, “hoping” and discussing the problem, TCRA polled its members, received input from stakeholders, hired some spit-fire lobbyists, and set out to put the train back on the track.

The Texas Legislature runs at a different time schedule than many other states, and Janu­ary 2019 was the beginning of the 86th Legis­lative session in Texas. Preparations had been made and TCRA, led by Steve and Amy Bresnen, trudged forward to make legislative history for Texas court reporters.

Texas H.B. 1619 was first introduced by a well-respected legislator, House Representative Jeff Leach, and co-authored by House Rep­resentative Art Fierro. Leach was chair of the House Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurispru­dence, which was exactly where the bill needed to land. Texas Senate Bill 2094 was introduced in the other assembly by Sen. Brian Hughes. With those two bills being filed, we were plant­ed to further our endeavors of righting the derailment.

Now the hard work began. Our two es­teemed lobbyists worked tirelessly with the TCRA Legislative Committee, educating the legislature about the needs of the court reporting profes­sion. Countless hours, phone calls, emails, and lots of prayer went into the daily regime of getting the bills through committees. It was an everyday diligent effort work­ing on court reporters’ behalf, fueled by sheer determination and the continued subject of the “shortage.”

After several days, weeks, and months of work, an opportunity arose, and we jumped. Texas Senate Bill 891, an omnibus bill, became our new ticket. An omnibus bill is a proposed law that can cover a number of diverse or unrelated topics. Omnibus is derived from Latin and means “for everything.” An omnibus bill is a single document that is accepted in a single vote by a legislature but packages together several measures into one. This was a perfect vehicle for our bill. And in the end, this is what was passed.

I would love to explain all of the facets of the bill that pertain to court reporters; but for the sake of brevity, I have included the link to the analysis of the entire bill so that those with inquiring minds may go read every part of the new law. You can see it all here. The part pertaining to court reporters is Section 7.

The short rundown is as follows:

■ Court reporters’ records are not subject to the electronic transmission of documents under the Business & Commerce Code;

■ Notice of appeal must be served directly on the court reporter responsible for preparing the record;

■ Requirement of court reporting firms to sup­ply the signed document, known as further certification, to each reporter upon request;

■ Establishes two new categories/licenses of court reporters: apprenticeship court report­er and provisional court reporter;

■ Establishes reciprocity and substantially equivalent provisions;

■ Court reporting firms that are primarily owned and operated by a licensed court reporter shall pay only one registration fee;

■ Continuing education requirements for court reporting firms;

■ Clarifying complaint categories;

■ Clarifying gift-giving;

■ Outlining failure to fulfill commitments;

■ Clarifying prohibited contracts — restricting an attorney’s choice.

All of the new law has a definite impact on the court reporting profession. The three areas specifically addressing the shortage are the two new licenses established by the Legislature and the category entitled Reciprocity Agreement.

The apprenticeship and provisional licenses have been created in name, but the parameters of each license rest on the shoulders of the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC), which regulates court reporters and firms in the state. Part of the legislation mandat­ed the JBCC to establish a stakeholder group comprised of various interested parties to make recommendations for the requirements of each license. At the present time, those meetings have taken place and the recommendations have been approved by the JBCC. Those have been sent out for public comment and await approval by the Texas Supreme Court.

Essentially, the provisional license will be for those with an equivalent license outside of Texas to come work in Texas for a stated period of time until such time as they pass the skills portion of the Texas state test. It is required that prior to application for such license, the written portion of the Texas state test be passed and that the applicant show proof of performing court reporting in another jurisdiction for three of the preceding five years.

The apprenticeship license is designed for the student working to achieve passage of the state test. This would also be for a stated period of time and would entail passing Part B, the written portion of the test, and passing one portion of Part A, the skills portion. The apprentice would be required to be under direct supervision of a Texas certified court reporter and be limited in reporting certain types of legal proceedings. Other provisions apply and will soon be posted on the JBCC website.

The reciprocity agreement portion of the new law would involve much the same as a provisional license. It would require that the applicant have a substantially equivalent license as confirmed by the JBCC and have the same requirements of passage of the Texas written test and performing court reporting for three of the preceding five years. The reciprocity agree­ment differs from the provisional as the reci­procity would be for court reporters who have licenses from states that have been confirmed as substantially equivalent to the Texas state test by the JBCC prior to application.

As of Feb. 7, 2020, the following states have been deemed as substantially equivalent: Alabama, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia. More about the JBCC endorsement procedures are available here.

In regard to reciprocity, the Texas Govern­ment Code Sec. 152.202 outlines the specific rule, but in essence it only comes into play when an agreement has been reached with another state to offer certification that’s reciprocal. For example, if a reciprocity agreement was in place with New Mexico, court reporters from Texas could practice in New Mexico and New Mexico court reporters would be able to practice in Texas, so long as all the parameters are in place.

The Commission was also required by Jan­uary 2020 to begin reaching out to other states in regard to reciprocity agreements. There are no agreements in place at this time.

There is still work to be done in bringing the train completely back on the track, but as you can see, Texas has made monumental steps in creating avenues to address the shortage in our profession. So, when you hear someone say, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” believe them. Along with having a big state, we have big ideas and even bigger solutions. Come to Texas and work!

Kim Cherry, RMR, is a past president of the Texas Court Reporters Association. She can be reached at kimcherry@rocketmail.com.

Convention winner Garcia excited about future

Alexandria Faith Garcia

We recently held a contest to give a free 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo registration to a new member who joined between May 17 and June 30. Alexandria Faith Garcia was the winner. She told the JCR Weekly about her journey to court reporting.

I have an aunt who is an official court reporter in Harris County, Texas, and that is how I found out about the court reporting industry. I chose to do court reporting because I saw how many different paths you could take as a reporter, such as being a freelance reporter, a captioner, or having an official position in court. I liked the idea of having different options so that I could see which one fit me best. When I found out that you could caption at events such as sporting events and concerts, that is what intrigued me. I hope to caption for those kinds of events sometime in the future.

My family is what kept me motivated during school and practice time. Growing up less fortunate than others really pushed me to finish school so that I, along with my mother and sister, could have a better life for not only ourselves but for our future families as well. They were a constant support throughout school. Being able to go through the experience of theory and speedbuilding was tough at times, but it has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done for myself and for them as well. Now it has even inspired my sister to push through court reporting school, and I cannot wait for her to become a fellow reporter.

While in school, I had the opportunity to attend Texas Court Reporters Association and NCRA conventions. Those were a lot of fun. I loved learning more about this profession that I did not know about, such as the different contests that I could participate in once I became qualified. The continuing education in this field is never ending.

My advice for future court reporters is to keep pushing through school no matter how hard it gets. Keep going because there’s a whole world of things to do and places to go. Do the homework even if it’s tiring and boring. Make time to practice outside of school. It will only make you write faster and help you memorize briefs and phrases. Transcribe as many tests as you can because that will only make you better. There were times when I felt I couldn’t put my fingers in a position to press the right keys or when I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach a certain speed, but now I look back and see how silly it was to think I wasn’t able to do those things because I am doing them now. During the moments I didn’t feel motivated, I pushed through and made myself practice, and I must say that the compensation has been rewarding.

I recently started my career in May of 2019, and I can see the change and impact it has made in my life. I’m currently a deputy court reporter in juvenile court. Everything is fresh for me, and I’m learning a lot as I go along, and, luckily, I have amazing people I can turn to when I need help. Overall, this journey from the start of school until now has been such a big blessing for myself and my family. I very much look forward to the future I have in court reporting.

Court reporter shortage in Bexar County

NCRA member and official court reporter Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, San Antonio, Texas, was featured along with other court officials in a segment that aired on KENS Channel 5 on June 24 that addresses the negative impact a shortage of court reporters is having on cases in Bexar County. NCRA and the Ducker Study is also mentioned in the piece.

Watch here.

NCRA member recognized for 25 years of service and more

East Texas Matters posted an article on April 30 about NCRA member Kim Christopher from Tyler, Texas. She was the first African American woman to be hired as a Smith County court reporter and is celebrating 25 years of service.

Read more.

2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebrated in the media and on social media

Mississippi court reporters at the Capitol

Social media shares, careers showcased in the press, official proclamations, memes, open houses, and more have marked NCRA’s seventh Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebration happening Feb. 9–16. The weeklong event is designed to help promote the court reporting and captioning professions to the public by hosting demonstrations, open houses, and more.

At the national level, U.S. Rep. John Shimkus from Illinois recognized the week in a written speech submitted for the official record of the U.S. House of Representatives. In addition, U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis from Iowa delivered a similar speech from the House floor on Feb. 14, recognizing the event.

On Feb. 12, NCRA President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, participated in “Spread the Word,” an online event hosted by the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., in honor of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. Terry joined other representatives from the court reporting and captioning professions to talk to students firsthand about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. The speakers also provided motivation and inspiration to those who attended and participated in a Q&A segment.

“It was a fantastic event for the attendees,” said Terry.  “Watching the chat window, you could tell they appreciated the information and were inspired by the many presenters. The presenters were given the opportunity to craft their own messages and topics. This was a great idea because you could tell each participant was speaking from their heart. It was an honor to join this group of dedicated professionals in giving back and motivating the next generation of reporters,” she added.

Social media has been abuzz

From Magnolia Reporting

State associations, individuals, and students have also taken to social media outlets to celebrate the week. In addition to sharing memes, professionals have also been sharing why they love their careers, information about special events happening in their areas, and more.

The celebration even generated a tweet by Joe Fulton, an attorney and partner with Martineau King in Charlotte, N.C., who tweeted “In honor of Court Reporting and Captioning Week, I will be keeping my voice up and speaking a little slower than normal this week. I have no idea how these people keep up! My best guess is magic.”

The Deposition Reporters Association of California shared via email with members a video of a keynote speech delivered by its lobbyist and attorney, Ed Howard, at its 2017 annual convention, where he told reporters why they are amazing.

In honor of the week, NCRA also launched a series of videos featuring members talking about why they love their careers. The videos are available on NCRA’s YouTube channel. State associations, members, and schools are encouraged to share them to help promote the court reporting and captioning professions all year round.

More schools joined in the fun

The Captioning and Court Reporting program at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), Cuyahoga, Ohio, held its annual write-a-thon fundraiser in celebration of the week. Students in the program gathered in a prominent area of the school plaza and worked together on their machines as a visible display of the court reporting profession in training. Students secured sponsors ahead of time to contribute funds to support student members attending professional development activities such as state and national conventions. In addition, Tri-C students in the program hosted a “Professional Pop-Up” interactive career event, which featured professional reporters from a variety of court reporting and captioning sectors who displayed their skills through demonstrations of live reporting and captioning. The event was followed by a Q&A session.

Court reporting and captioning students at Madison College, Madison, Wis., manned a two-day table in the school’s cafeteria where they practiced writing on their machines and talking with visitors to the table. In addition to the students, instructors were also on hand to talk about the career and the many opportunities available for those who choose it.

Official proclamations from Pennsylvania and San Antonio, Texas, were also reported later in the week bringing the total number of proclamations to 16.

And, as always, there has been media coverage

National Court Reporting & Captioning Week Showcased on Local Station

On Feb. 9, KIIITV, Corpus Christi, Texas, aired a story that featured faculty and students from the Del Mar College’s court reporting program showcasing the court reporting and captioning professions.

Watch the story.

Court Reporting & Captioning Week in Iowa

The Newton Daily News reported on Feb. 12 that a number of NCRA members from Iowa and faculty from the Des Moines Area Community College successfully secured an official proclamation by state Gov. Kim Reynolds recognizing 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Read more.

Local court reporters recognized

On Feb. 11, channel KSAT, San Antonio, Texas, aired a story that recognized court reporters for their work. The story included an interview with NCRA member Carol Castillo, an official court reporter, from the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse in honor of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Read more.

An Interview with Kaylee Lachmann, RPR

NCRA member Kaylee Lachmann, RPR, a new court reporter with Planet Depos, was profiled in a blog posted by JD Supra on Feb. 13.

Read more.

Don’t forget to enter into this year’s drawings: Deadline to enter for both is Feb. 18

The NCSA State Challenge is a friendly contest among state associations and individual NCRA members to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. The 2019 NCSA State Challenge marks the fifth year the gauntlet has been thrown down. Winners will receive a variety of prizes ranging from complimentary NCRA event registrations to vouchers for continuing education.

This year, NCRA has issued its own challenge as well: It calls on all state affiliates to help celebrate this year’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week by securing an official proclamation recognizing the week by their state governor or a state lawmaker. States that submit a copy of their official state proclamation to pr@ncra.org will be entered into a drawing to win one free 2019 Convention & Expo registration.

A downloadable sample proclamation is available on NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning resource page.

For additional resources, visit NCRA’s Court Reporting & Captioning Week resources page at NCRA.org/home/events. No matter how you celebrate 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week, be sure to share your stories and photos with NCRA’s Communications Team at pr@ncra.org.

Read more about what others are doing to celebrate NCRA’s 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

Local court reporters recognized

On Feb. 11, channel KSAT, San Antonio, Texas, aired a story that includes an interview with NCRA member Carol Castillo at the steps of the Bexar County Courthouse. Castillo is an official court reporter who spoke about court reporters being recognized in honor of 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.  

Read more.

National Court Reporting & Captioning Week Showcased on Local Station

On Feb. 9, KIII-TV, Corpus Christi, Texas, aired a story that featured faculty and students from the Del Mar College’s court reporting program showcasing the court reporting and captioning professions.

Watch the story.

State of the states: A legislative update

By Matthew Barusch

Activity in state legislatures is in full swing for the year, and January was a very busy month for court reporting legislation. Our state associations have begun this year by being very active advocates for the court reporting profession, and we applaud our state leaders’ efforts to protect and support court reporters nationwide. As you well know, court reporters are affected by a wide variety of issues

One of the most pressing issues facing the court reporting profession is certification and licensure. While 26 states have some form of mandatory certification and licensure for court reporters, NCRA’s home state of Virginia does not, and we worked to assist Virginia Court Reporters Association in their efforts to institute these requirements. Unfortunately the bill, SB 1441, did not pass out of committee and will no longer be considered this year. The state of Utah also had a bill introduced that deals with this issue. HB 278 repeals the original Certified Court Reporters Licensing Act and modifies requirements for licensure to requirements for an NCRA or NVRA certification. Introduced Feb. 5, this bill has not yet been heard in committee. Some states are also exploring other avenues to establishing certification and licensure recognition. The state of Texas’ Judicial Branch Certification Commission is currently considering proposals made by Texas Court Reporters Association and Texas Deposition Reporters Association on how to make it easier for reporters to work in the state.

Another important issue gaining traction and severely affecting the court reporting profession is the issue of independent contractor classification. Last year, the California Supreme Court established a new “ABC test” for determining independent contractor classification in the Dynamex case. This test is now receiving debate in the nearby state of Washington, which has introduced HB 1515 to change the definition of independent contractor to include this test. This legislation, while meant to “level the playing field for employers who pay for workers’ living wages and benefits, and ensure that more workers have access to the wage and social insurance protections,” could have unintended consequences for freelance reporters’ ability to work in the state, which is why NCRA is working with the Washington Court Reporters Association to oppose it. The legislation has been heard multiple times in committee, but as of Feb. 6 has not been voted on for approval.

Electronic recording continues to be a challenge that court reporters deal with at the state level. The state of Minnesota is considering legislation (SF 21) that would create a task force to evaluate the expanded use of electronic recording in court proceedings. Finally, some state legislatures are considering salary increases for official court reporters. Both Oklahoma and West Virginia have bills introduced that would provide annual salary increases for officials.

NCRA is proud of the members, state leaders, and affiliated associations that are dedicating their time and effort to advance profession-friendly legislation in the states. We remain dedicated to supporting and assisting our state affiliates in their advocacy efforts, as we work together toward our common goal of protecting the court reporting profession and ensuring its longevity for generations to come. Remember, YOU are our best and most important advocate. Without members like you reaching out to elected officials, dedicating your time to volunteering for your state association, and remaining engaged with NCRA and your state, the profession could not survive. But together, we can overcome any challenge we face.

For more information on state legislation and NCRA’s advocacy efforts, contact Director of State Government Relations Matthew Barusch at mbarusch@ncra.org.

NCRA Board of Directors kicks off Court Reporting & Captioning Week

NCRA’s Board of Directors took time from their development meeting held this past weekend at the Association’s headquarters in Reston, Va., to mark the start of the 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week with a video encouraging everyone to celebrate.

The video, which was posted on NCRA’s Facebook page and other social media outlets, has more than 3,200 views. In the video, Board members shared the following message:

We encourage everyone to join us as we celebrate our wonderful profession from Feb. 10 to 17 during the 2018 Court Reporting & Captioning Week. No activity is too small to celebrate all that we do, in each day, in our professional careers. From capturing the record and preserving history, to providing captioning for broadcast news and live sporting events, to providing CART services for schools, churches, public events, and even theater productions, to ensuring that those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing have equal access to important information: We are court reporters and captioners; and what we do, we do proudly. So let’s come together and celebrate our wonderful and rewarding profession. Let’s share with others the vast opportunities that exist when they chose this career path. Reach out to your legislators and ask for an official proclamation. Attend a career fair and introduce potential students to the world of steno and where our profession can take them. Demonstrate how realtime can benefit your judge or a friend’s judge. Mentor a court reporting student and let them know that the hard work in school is worth it. Join us, your Board of Directors, in celebration, and let’s make this the best Court Reporting & Captioning Week celebration ever.

Members can use the Court Reporting & Captioning Week Facebook frame when they post photos to the social media platform this week. The frame is an easy way to celebrate the week, perhaps with a steno selfie or a photo of you and some of your colleagues.

For the first time ever, NCRA is expecting official national proclamations recognizing the week from two lawmakers. Rep. Bradley Byrne from Alabama is slated to deliver a one-minute floor speech recognizing Court Reporting & Captioning Week on Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. ET. The speech can be viewed on CSPAN. NCRA will also post a link to the speech on its social media outlets.

In addition, longtime supporter U.S. Rep. Ron Kind from Wisconsin will honor court reporters and captioners in a statement he will submit for the record. Rep. Kind’s wife — Tawni Kind, RMR, CRR, CRC — is an official court reporter and a member of NCRA.

Reports continue to come in about the activities happening around the country as members of the court reporting and captioning professions celebrate their chosen careers with pride. Members of the Georgia Shorthand Reporters Association will visit their state capitol and request an official proclamation from lawmakers on Feb. 15. They will also host a meet-and-greet and hand out doughnuts to their supporters and state senators and representatives.

The California Court Reporters Association is calling on its members to celebrate the week by sponsoring a student to attend its Boot Camp event in honor of Farryn Ashley Nelson, a U.S. veteran and court reporter who passed away at 27 years old.

Court reporters in San Antonio, Texas, also report having received an official proclamation from lawmakers in that city. The proclamation was presented to several members during a small ceremony on the courthouse steps on Feb. 13. Also, on Feb. 19, the chief reporter for the state’s House of Representatives will visit with students in the court reporting program at San Antonio College.

Need more ideas on spreading the word during Court Reporting & Captioning Week? Check out the e-seminar Promoting the Profession. This e-seminar is for teachers, court reporters, and firm owners who would like to get more involved in promoting their profession. Veteran reporters Carolyn Ruiz Coronado, RPR, and Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, CRC, share how they use resources like career days, social media, state-wide recruiting networks, Google docs, and A to Z programs to spread the word about the court reporting and captioning professions. Uviedo, from San Antonio, Texas, is the 2016 and 2017 winner of the annual National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) Challenge. The presentation lasts one hour and forty-one minutes and is worth 0.15 continuing education units.

The aim of the NCSA Challenge is to encourage working professionals to reach out through career fairs and other activities to spread the word about what viable career paths court reporting and captioning are. NCSA will review and tally all submissions by members and state associations, and all entries will be eligible for prizes that include free webinars, event registrations, and more.








Giving back to the community: An interview with R. Michael Buie

Possum Talks presentation at the Terrell Unit near Rosharon, Texas

Michael Buie, RPR, CRR, CRC, president and owner of MBA Reporting Services in Plano, Texas, has been a member of NCRA since 1976 and is still a practicing freelance reporter. Throughout his career, he and his wife, Shari, have founded, organized, and participated in several community programs, including:

  • Love in Action for hospitalized children and their siblings
  • The Hearing Heart program, which provides captioning at a local church
  • GED (General Educational Development) classes to inmates

He currently co-teaches an addiction recovery program to inmates at two maximum-security prison units. He also volunteers for Possum Talks, a program he cofounded for incarcerated dads who want to learn how to be faithful fathers from behind bars, in which Buie and his team of 10 volunteers hold six workshops a year throughout north and south Texas.

 

The Possum Talks team poses for a group photo with participant inmates at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas

What prompted you to become involved with the Possum Talks?

I’ve always enjoyed teaching in different venues. In reporting school, I taught academic evening classes and attended full-time day school at McMahon College of Stenotype in Houston. As far as Possum Talks, Shari and I cofounded the organization in 2013. We both had taught addiction recovery to men and women for a couple years and saw firsthand the need to help incarcerated men understand how to be faithful fathers and communicate effectively with their children. There’s a lot of tension exhibited by incarcerated men because they see their children committing many of the same criminal acts, but they feel helpless to do anything about it from behind bars. This results in feelings of aggression, guilt, and hopelessness for many of them. The program is faith-based but structured to encourage men of all faiths or nonfaiths — Judeo-Christian, atheist, Muslim, Satanist, Naturalist, etc. — to value godly principles as the standard for being faithful fathers. We are proud of Possum Talks’ growth in five years. At the one-year mark, in 2014, the program received the Texas Governor’s Award for the most innovative new program in the Texas prison system. Since the program’s inception, Possum Talks has conducted 27 one-day or day-and-a-half workshops in eight different medium- and maximum-security prisons throughout Texas.

How long have you been involved in this work?

I have been involved with teaching inmates since about 2012, first teaching an inmate GED class in math, English, science, social studies, and writing skills. I also co-taught a weekly Bible class in what’s called the SHU, or Secured Housing Unit (maximum security), at Collin County Detention Center for two years. The men of the SHU are confined to a cell 23 hours a day. It was an honor for them to spend that one hour on Thursdays in Bible study with us.

A Possum Talks skit demonstrates communication techniques, at the Boyd Unit near Teague, Texas

What other community service activities do you support?

Shari and I also teach addiction-recovery classes at Buster Cole State Jail and Collin County Detention Center (Fannin and Collin counties) in maximum security. From 1985 to 1996, we both participated in civic outreach for children at what was then the Parkland Memorial Hospital Children’s Unit in Dallas. Shari founded the organization called Your Love in Action, which provided a yearly Christmas program with both corporate and individual donations, like toys, underwear, and health items. The program grew to the point that we filled two FedEx delivery vans, enough to supply hospitalized children (usually burn victims) and their siblings throughout the year. Shari and I, along with our son and daughter, participated as a family in the program for 10 years. I also founded a program called The Hearing Heart in 1996, which provided live CART captioning to individuals who are late-deafened and culturally deaf at a church in Plano, Texas. I and another captioner provided weekly captioning for as many as 20 congregants.

What are the greatest benefits personally and professionally to being involved in community service activities?

Though I’m now over 70 years old and anticipate retirement sometime, I still report as a freelancer and manage my firm. However, now, because of my age, I’m more interested in participating in efforts with eternal value, not just helping relieve social ills.

Why is giving back to the community important?

Giving back to the community is important because 1) it’s the community that provides an environment of peace and security to thrive in as a family and an individual, and 2) according to Matthew 5:16, I’m commanded to give back to the community in such a way that glorifies God, not me. Giving back demonstrates not only positivity to a society in jeopardy but also promotes goodwill and a spirit of cooperation and volunteerism without expectation of benefit or entitlement.

What advice would you give to someone who is seeking to become involved in community service activities?

1) Look at not only your skills as a reporter but 2) your uniqueness as a human being, what makes you unique above and beyond your professional skills, and 3) proactively seek out opportunities to offer these attributes for the good of others. There’s another place in Scripture where the Apostle Paul says that the end result is a resultant peace that transcends all understanding. That’s right where I intend to be during the rest of my reporting career and long afterward.

 

The JCR Weekly will run a series of interviews featuring NCRA members who are giving back to their community in addition to an article in the April issue of the JCR.